By JR Valrey
December 8th, at 9am, San Leandro Officer Jason Fletcher is set to appear in court, in Dublin, after being indicted on September 15th, for the killing of Steven Taylor. San Leandro police officer Jason Fletcher is charged with voluntary manslaughter, after the fatal incident on April of 2020, inside of a Wal-mart. Steven Taylor, reportedly, was having a mental breakdown, and 40 seconds after Officer Fletcher arrived on the scene, Taylor’s life was seeping onto the floor from a gaping gunshot wound in his chest. The proceeding will be on zoom, and there is a protest demanding justice scheduled outside of the courthouse at the same time.
“My grandson’s life is worth more than a voluntary manslaughter charge. This D.A has never charged or indicted a police officer in Alameda County. I guess its better than (Officer Fletcher) getting away with murder. We have a long way to go,” said Ms. Addie Kitchen, the grandmother of Steve Taylor.
This is only the second police officer, in California history, to be indicted for the murder of a Black man. The first to be indicted was Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter in the televised killing of Oscar Grant on January 1st, 2009.
“The new law AB 392, passed on Jan. 1, 2020, changed the wording (in the law), removing the term ‘necessary’, requiring an officer to exhaust non-lethal alternatives, before resulting to deadly force,” said Ms. Kitchen.
In court, Alameda County prosecutors have stated that Fletcher’s decision to walk into the Walmart alone, is one of the reasons why he is being charged with the April 18th killing.
Officer Fletcher’s attorney Michael Rains, is the same attorney that Johannes Mehserle had, when he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and beat the murder and voluntary manslaughter charge, after the televised killing of Oscar Grant.
“I think the charge of voluntary manslaughter from (Alameda County District Attorney) Nancy O’Malley is expected in this scenario. I know that there is evidence out there that makes a case for murder. I’ve read it. And I think it’s compelling. I can only hope that all evidence is considered in the trial,” said activist Jenna Hewitt, who has been leading regular protests since April, seeking justice for Steven Taylor, right alongside Ms. Addie Kitchen, and a host of family, friends, and concerned citizens.
“First (we) demand a conviction. Too many times the charges against police officers are dropped, and we need to continue applying pressure to the DA, to ensure this doesn’t happen.
“We also need to continue pressuring the City of San Leandro to answer, for their mishandling of this tragedy. They need to take disciplinary action against the second officer involved, and work towards major structural changes in SLPD. And, of course, we need to continue fighting for justice for others like Steven,” expressed Jenna Hewitt.
The difference in between California police murder cases, where the cops get off, and the one where Mehserle got convicted, is that indictments and million dollar settlements come from media attention, protests, and rebellions. Although, those things will not bring Steven Taylor back, it will be a start, in repairing the damage done to Steven’s family, when his life was taken.
“Physical protests weren’t the only factor, though I do believe they played a major role in the pressure that was put on the DA. A ‘protest’ during a pandemic also looks a little different, and so the power of digital protest becomes even more significant. I think the power of the people, in general, is to thank for this small, but significant step forward,” explained San Leandro resident Jenna Hewitt.
“The corruption and violence of police in America has deep roots, and so does the practice of protest. Protesting is a way to educate, empower, and engage communities in the fight for social justice. It is a critical practice in the fight for social justice.”
And now that a former Bay Area District Attorney and California Attorney General, who never indicted a police officer for wrongdoing during either tenure, is Vice President of the United States, the Justice 4 Steven Taylor Committee needs as much support as possible, because the “post racial society” public relations machine is coming with full strength, as soon as Biden and Harris can dig their heels into their new seats of power.
For more information, you can contact instagram @justice4steventaylor. The next protest is scheduled for December 8th at the courthouse in Dublin, at 9am.